Dear Agros Supporters, Partners, and Family,
After five incredible years as Director of Communications at Agros, the time has come to move on to new employment opportunities. I carry with me a profound sense of gratitude for having had the opportunity to walk alongside so many extraordinary families throughout Central America and Mexico; families who have graced us with their vulnerable and heroic stories of Desire. Suffering. Resiliency. And Hope.
We have all witnessed time and again how the stories of people who live and struggle in the developing world are simplistically reduced to caricatures of either pity or glorification. This is particularly true when those stories are told for fundraising purposes. On the one hand, pity is emphasized because of the enormous suffering these people have experienced. On the other hand, they are over-romanticized and glorified as the most incredible people on earth due to their resiliency, hope, and generosity.
I do not mean to be cynical—at all. I recognize that in many ways, these two emotional poles represent truth. And as Director of Communications, Agros families have certainly given me cause to highlight both their suffering and resiliency.
But I also recognize that the deeper truths of any human story—as well as the truth of the Agros story–lie somewhere in the middle; in the narrative regions that speak to the fact that every human life is filled with complexity, wonder, conflict, and desire. And the tagline “ending rural poverty” can never be reduced to a single story, image, or video clip.
Over the years, Agros has learned that poverty is most comprehensively defined and understood through the concept of broken relationships. For the rural poor, all of the essential connections and relationships that make up a healthy society have broken down: relationships with local municipalities; economic, education, and health institutions; the environment; cultural identity; and even family relationships break down as parents (and all too often, children) are forced to migrate in search of work just to survive.
Agros responds with a holistic development model built on the belief that these families have the capacity themselves to work their way out of poverty and build back these broken relationships—if given the opportunity to develop what is needed most: farmable land, economic enterprise, and, most importantly, human dignity.
Another way of saying this is that for Agros, ending poverty is not just a phrase, a marketing slogan, or a speech to be given over a fundraising dinner. “Ending rural poverty” IS the relationships our staff have with Tomasa, Diego, Teresa, Noemi, Mateo, Serbando, and countless other Agros families.
There are no easy fixes, no magic bullet, and no single intervention that will make generations of suffering go away. And yet, after 27 years of faithful, hard work throughout Central America, Agros has stayed true to its original promise of empowering entire communities to work their way free from generations of poverty. In Agros villages, I have heard families say again and again, “In our suffering and poverty, we were forgotten, abandoned, left to die. But then Agros came. And Agros has kept their promise. We are not the same as before. We have hope and our children have a new future.”
In Agros villages, hope has taken the place of despair—for generations to come.
I think this is best summed up by the words of an Agros villager in El Edén, Nicaragua when I asked him to describe what Agros means to him personally. Without pausing, he said, “To me, Agros is a mirror. A mirror in which we’ve been able to see our face; we have seen that we have dignity and that we matter.”
I leave Agros with clarity: It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve the families in Agros villages by sharing with you their stories of dignity and desire. I have also been forever changed by witnessing the life-giving generosity of so many Agros donors. And I think of the Agros staff and board as family. Thank you—mil gracias—to each of you. I remain your most ardent advocate.
Yours in Land, Hope, and Life,